My sincere apologies to bestiality supporters in Florida
The first time I ever heard about bestiality laws, or rather the lack of them, I was working at a small community newspaper outside of Phoenix, Ariz in the spring of 2006. I had just called a source and we were chatting on the line, when my colleague Tommy returned from a recent interview and the words "fucked a sheep" rang in my ear.
"What?" I blurted out, right in the middle of the phone call.
Tommy saw I was on the phone, but he didn't care. His face was red from laughter and tears were streaming from his eyes.
"I was just at --" his words broke up, because he was laughing so hard, "the home of the fire chief. He's been arrested, for, for ..."
He could barely finish.
" . . . fucking a sheep!"
And with that, the whole office stopped what they were doing with looks of shock and awe. I quickly ended my conversation and Tommy filled me in with all the gruesome details.
According to the police report, Mesa Fire Chief Leroy Johnson snuck into his neighbor's yard, grabbed a lamb, pulled it into a shed and proceeded to violate the poor animal. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), the neighbor's 13-year-old daughter was home, saw the man grab the lamb and called her father, Alan Goats (real name!). When Goats arrived at his home, he found Johnson with his pants down bent over the sheep. Johnson allegedly told his neighbor, "You caught me Alan. I tried to fuck your sheep!" Police later arrested Johnson.
The story was really quite sad, especially for animal lovers like Tommy and I, but we couldn't help laughing at the absurdity of it. For the next few hours, we came up with the best headlines for the story:
"Fire Chief on the lamb after being caught on a lamb"
"Fire Chief gets neighbor's goat"
"Police to Fire Chief: Baaaaaaaa-d idea"
"Johnson screws Goat's sheep"
Later that year, Arizona passed a bill to ban bestiality. I, for one, was surprised it wasn't already illegal. I mean, Massachusett's still has a law that women can't be on top during sex, and in many states, oral sex is illegal. But somehow having sex with animals slipped by?
Fast forward to 2008, when I released my first installment of the Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation. The first item on my list was the bestiality law some Democrats tried to pass in the Florida Legislature. In news reports, the legislators kept bringing up one case in the Panhandle where a man raped and killed a goat, but was only charged with killing the goat. I thought it was ridiculous to spend all this time on one or two instances that could have been solved by a judge. Here's what I said:
More disturbing than the thought of our North Florida neighbors boning sheep is that taxpayers paid some Tallahassee lawyer to write the language of this rather long bill that details all the different ways you can have sex with an animal. (Read the full description here [pdf].)
Hey, I'm all for protecting animals, but when Florida lawmakers can't even figure out how to deal effectively with human sexual predators, I think animals need to take a back seat.
So to speak.
That rankled quite a few animal lovers, including State Rep. Bill Heller.
Then, earlier this year, when lawmakers introduced the bill again, I re-stated how ridiculous I thought it was:
I feel the same now — that bestiality has never been “legal” and animal cruelty laws are sufficient — but there were more wacky bills this session than last to justify putting it on the list.
But this year, I'm changing my tune. If lawmakers put out a bill during next session, I'll support it. Why my change of heart?
Well, Florida is apparently a lot more dysfunctional than I thought. Thanks to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, I discovered our state has more than a few dog-fuckers.
In just one week in October, two men were in court for separate animal abuse incidents. In Orlando, Laszlo Arsenio Horvath was accused of sodomizing his dog, which later had to be euthanized due to her injuries. In Palm Coast, a judge sent Carla Rhea Maldonado to prison for lewd and lascivious battery of a teenage girl. Although photos confiscated by police showed Maldonado having sex with a dog, too, she was not charged with any animal cruelty.
That second case should be the rallying cry of animal rights advocates next session. It demonstrates the link between bestiality and other forms of sexual abuse, plus it shows that the judges can (and do) ignore current animal cruelty laws.
I guess we really do need to spell out to Floridians that you cannot fuck animals.
(photo courtesy of Roger B./Flickr)